Representative Mike Pitts (R-Laurens), a retired Greenville police officer is sponsoring a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use in South Carolina. The bill would change the current penalties of criminal arrest and possible jail time, to a citation and civil court appearance for persons caught with one ounce or less of marijuana. First time offenders would pay a fine of at least $100, but not exceeding $200. The fine for a second offense would be a minimum of $200, but not exceeding $1,000.
To summarize his rational behind sponsoring this bill, Rep. Pitts stated,
“I never once had to fight a pothead. I never once had to chase a pothead. They just did not create problems.”
As a state without an active medical marijuana program and a history of hostility towards marijuana, a bill put forth by a former member of law enforcement is a loud statement. “As a law enforcement officer, the biggest thing that I see is a person can be arrested for a small amount, a half-a-joint, for instance; criminal record stays there forever unless they have it expunged,” Pitts said.
Still, the bill faces stiff opposition from current law enforcement. “As a law enforcement officer, I’m not going to be in favor of any legislation that encourages the possession of narcotics by our young people.” State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said.
Representative Pitts stressed the fact that his bill would not legalize marijuana posession, it will still be against the law to possess marijuana in quantities exceeding the limits set forth in the bill. South Carolina lawmakers return to session on January 12.
Tom Davis is the republican senator who authored and introduced the medical cannabis oil legislation in the South Carolina. The bill, S 1035, which Governor Nikki Haley signed into law in June of this year, allows physicians to prescribe cannabidiol (CBD) oil to patients with epilepsy to treat symptoms and seizures. Now senator Davis, pictured below holding a sign stating what he was thankful for on the holiday last month, is looking to expand the medical marijuana law to include patients suffering from many other debilitating medical conditions.
The medical marijuana bill passed by the South Carolina general assembly in June also allowed the formation of a medical marijuana study committee with the purpose of learning more about the cannabis plant including how to cultivate it and how to use it for medicinal or therapeutic treatment purposes.
In the effort for education, the committee has held four hearings, so far, throughout the state where people come to share their personal experiences with the use of medical marijuana. From just four hearings, Davis reported that he was amazed at how much he has learned about how cannabis has helped to treat many different patients suffering from a variety of ailments, including post-traumatic-stress-disorder, autism, pain management, and glaucoma as well as epilepsy and other seizure disorders.
Science and humanity seem to be the inspiration for Davis. It is what he learned about the endocannabinoid receptor system in the human brain, and how it responds to the phytocannabinoids provided by using cannabis, combined with the first-hand human experience stories that have inspired him to push for the expansion of the medical marijuana program in the Palmetto State. He anticipates introducing the amendment when the legislature reconvenes in 2015.
photo credit: csgazette, Facebook